Before pandemic, gastroenterologist earnings were holding steady


COVID-19 has changed many things in the medical landscape as practices have closed, many physicians are transitioning to telemedicine, and emergency departments struggle to provide safe environments for their employees.

Survey: Physician compensation by specialty

Medscape’s latest physician survey, conducted from Oct. 4, 2019, to Feb. 10, 2020, illustrates what gastroenterology looked like just before the coronavirus arrived.

While the average gastroenterologist salary did rise from 2019, the increase was minimal, going from $417,000 in 2019 to $419,000 in 2020, a 0.48% increase. In comparison, average income for all specialists was $346,000 in this year’s survey, up by 1.5% from the $341,000 earned in 2019, Medscape reported.

Prospects for next year, however, are grim. “We found out that we have a 10% salary decrease effective May 2 to Dec. 25. Our bonus will be based on clinical productivity, and since our numbers are down, that is likely to go away,” a pediatric emergency physician told Medscape.

Many gastroenterologists felt unfairly compensated in 2020, with only 52% reporting that they were satisfied with their salary. This was on the lower end of the 29 specialties included in the survey, which ranged from nephrology at 44% to oncology, emergency medicine, and radiology at 67%.

There was a notable disparity in the number of hours men spent seeing patients in comparison with women – while female GIs worked 38.3 hours a week, male GIs worked 42.5 hours. The average specialist saw patients 38 hours a week. This disparity in hours also translated into a notably higher salary for men: $430,000 versus $375,000. The number of hours gastroenterologists spent on paperwork and administration was roughly middle of the pack at 14.3 hours a week.

In the end, 80% of gastroenterologists said that they would choose to practice medicine again, compared with 77% for all physicians, and 91% said that they would choose gastroenterology again.

The respondents were Medscape members who had been invited to participate. The sample size was 17,461 physicians, and compensation was modeled and estimated based on a range of variables across 6 years of survey data. The sampling error was ±0.74%.

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